Home Invention New nanosatellite system produces high-res images at low cost

New nanosatellite system produces high-res images at low cost

The Synthetic Marginal Aperture with Revolving Telescopes (SMART) system.

Scientists at the Ben-Gurion University have come up with a new satellite imaging system that can effectively capture images that match the resolution of the full-frame, lens-based or concave mirror systems used on today’s telescopes. In addition, this new system is expected to revolutionize the economics and imagery available from space-based cameras and even earth-based telescopes.

According to scientists, this invention can completely change the costs of space exploration, astronomy, aerial photography, and more.

During the study, scientists found that arranging the nanosatellites the size of milk cartons in spherical (annular) configuration can effectively capture images that match the resolution of the full-frame, lens-based or concave mirror systems used on today’s telescopes.

Angika Bulbul, a BGU Ph.D. candidate under the supervision of Prof. Joseph Rosen in the BGU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering said, “Several previous assumptions about long-range photography were incorrect. We found that you only need a small part of a telescope lens to obtain quality images.”

“Even by using the perimeter aperture of a lens, as low as 0.43 percent, we managed to obtain similar image resolution compared to the full aperture area of mirror/lens-based imaging systems. Consequently, we can slash the huge cost, time and material needed for gigantic traditional optical space telescopes with large curved mirrors.”

Scientists additionally built a miniature laboratory model with a circular array of sub-apertures to demonstrate the synthetic marginal aperture with revolving telescopes (SMART) system capabilities. The groundbreaking nature of this study that it proves that by using a partial aperture, even a high-resolution image can be generated. This reduces the cost of traditionally large telescopic lenses.

The paper is published in the December issue of Optica.

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